LED Glass Desk





Introduction: LED Glass Desk

About: Software Engineer from San Diego, Ca. When I'm not coding, I like to take pictures and race cars.
After being given a frosted glass top desk at work, I thought it would be cool to set up some led powered visual notifications. I coded up a crude NodeJS server to listen for incoming events and a Growl "notification style" to send commands to some BlinkM lights.

 What I used:
Ikea Galant desk
* Custom Software (available on GitHub.com at https://github.com/mnlagrasta/DeskLights )
* Growl Software
* 8 BlinkM RGB LEDs from ThingM
* LinkM USB controller from ThingM
* 9 IDC 5x2 Crimp Connectors
* 10 feet of ribbon cable
* 2 sheets of foam core
* a bit of tape, twist ties, and zip ties

What I did:
* Crimped the IDC connectors evenly spaced along the ribbon cable
* Plugged in the controller to one end, usb to that, set the led channel ids
* Started up the server software
* Configured Growl (non-mac users will have to find another way to send commands to the server)
* Watched the pretty lights
* Punched some holes in the foam core boards and attached the lights where I wanted with the twist ties
* Strapped the foam core (lights side up) to the bottom of the desk using zip ties around the metal supports

* The commands sent to the server are really just web page requests sent to the right port. You could use all kinds of other programs to send those commands such as lwp, wget, etc.
* Growl styles are somewhat limited if you can't program Cocoa. So I made a "WebKit Style" and set the CSS background image to "", which is the page request that will tell the server to blink the lights red one time.
* I couldn't figure out where to buy it, but ThingM has added a WireM kit that would replace my not-quite-correct 5x2 IDC connectors.

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    The adurio is about 60$ and i was wondering how hard it would be to transform your code to something i could run from my spare raspberry pi.
    any chance you or anyone else could help me with this? Would be great since i just got a glass table for 19€;)

    1 reply

    Yeah, the arduino used in version 2 is pricey by todays standards. If the Pi had been around then, I would have used it. The version 1 code is node based and if you were to investigate the Node Serial project, you could probably run that directly of a Pi with the ThingM lights.

    If you go with the lights from version 2, check out the forums at Adafruit. They have been pretty helpful.

    Just wanted to drop a note here to announce a big software update for version 2 of this project. You can find it at https://github.com/mnlagrasta/DeskLights2

    The design is very pretty beautiful,But it seems that there's some led light under the top. I think the LED glass will more dream and soft.
    Kindly see the picture,LED glass desk.

    The design is very pretty beautiful,But it seems that there's some led light under the top. I think the LED glass will more dream and soft.
    Kindly see the picture,LED glass desk.

    Great job (You should have got more than a runner-up prize imo). ;-)

    Anybody want to see the desk in person? Come to Maker Faire in May! I'll be there exhibiting the desk and hopefully some software updates.

    Check it out: http://makerfaire.com/bayarea/2012/

    You can also follow me on twitter now for updates @mnlagrasta

    would this work with the black glass desk? I think that might make a great effect if it works properly.....

    basically, i'm asking if black glass is opaque...

    1 reply

    I'm no expert on glass in general or Ikea furniture. If it really is "black" I imagine that it is opaque and this wouldn't work. However, I have seen some people do some really neat things with lights shining through darkly tinted glass. ThingM does have a brighter light. I think it's called the MaxM or something and it would require a dedicated power source.

    i love it and was thinking i might do the same. but how do i make the lights flash when i get a notification.

    hi, this is nice, can i actually make it (touch screen vf sensor) which will move the LED light when we touch it? thanks

    1 reply

    The lights themselves have no support for sensors. However, the lights are easily controlled by a variety of microcontrollers, such as Pic or Arduino, which could receive sensor input and send serial commands to the lights.

    Will this work with Windows? (Windows has a Growl version too)

    2 replies

    I don't know about a Windows version of growl, but the NodeJS server part should definitely work on Windows. Then it would just be a matter of sending the right commands to the server. A lot of mail and chat clients can be configured to execute scripts when a new message comes in and you could do something there.

    Ah, ok , thanks, will give this a try with my glass desk and my PC

    I like it! Thinking about doing the same thing when I get a new desk...

    Are you able to control the lights individually or are they all together?

    2 replies

    Yes, you can assign each light a numeric channel id. You can then send commands to 1 or more channels, or broadcast to all channels. You can also put more than 1 light on any channel.